Matching is hot, but no one has cracked the SMB market. Enter The Sieve.
Yeah, we know, horrible name, but how's the tech, strategy, and team? COO and co-founder Michael Yinger, an industry veteran who's done time at PeopleScout and Randstad, thinks he's got some good answers. But listeners know Chad & Cheese will have the final word on this startup that's looking to face the Firing Squad unscathed. Does he come out alive?
Gotta listen to find out.
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TRANSCRIPTION SPONSORED BY: Disability Solutions partners with our clients to build best-in-class inclusion programs and reach qualified, talented individuals with disabilities of every skill, education, and experience level.
Like Shark Tank? Then you'll love Firing Squad! CHAD SOWASH & JOEL CHEESEMAN are here to put the recruiting industry's bravest, ballsiest, and baddest startups through the gauntlet to see if they got what it takes to make it out alive? Dig a fox hole and duck for cover kids the Chad and Cheese Podcast is taking it to a whole other level.
Oh yeah. Feeling fine and cherry wine, everybody! We're back on firing squad. It's been a while. Chad, as always this is the Chad and Cheese podcast. I'm your cohost Joel Cheeseman joined as always by Chad Sowash. And today we welcome Michael Jaeger CEO and co-founder of the Sieve. Michael, welcome to the show.
Thanks to be here. Looking forward to it.
All right. Before we get into the nitty gritty, give our listeners a little quick Twitter bio about you.
Sure. I've been in the talent acquisition space about 20 years. Technology implementation, client delivery, sales, product management, and pulled all those things together to help with the founding and running of the Sieve. That's what I've been doing for about the last 14 months now.
Joel (1m 13s):
And you hail from Charlotte, which is a beautiful city from what I understand,
Michael (1m 17s):
It is a beautiful city, lots of green. This year. We've had lots of rain, unlike other people who haven't had enough, but boy, it's hot and steamy out there. I spent two hours waiting in line outside of DMV this morning in the sun.
Joel (1m 31s):
That's only the beginning of your misery today my friend, cause you are on firing squad. Chad, tell him what he's won.
Chad (1m 37s):
Well Michael, you have two minutes to pitch Resume Says AKA the Sieve. At the end of two minutes, you're going to hear that bell then Joel and I will hit you with rapid fire Q and A. If your answers start rambling or you just get plain old, fucking boring, Joel is going to hit you with the crickets. And that is your signal to move along and tighten up your game. At the end of Q and A, you will receive either big applause. That's right kids prepare for a launch this baby is a penis shaped rocket ship! Golf clap, you're going to have to work on that second stage rocket cause this ain't going far, Michael, and last but not least the firing squad abort, abort, abort.
Chad (2m 27s):
You'd better find something else because this bitch ain't going to fly. That's it for firing squad. Are you ready?
Michael (2m 35s):
Boy, I'm ready!
Joel (2m 37s):
All right. Your two minutes starts right now.
Michael (2m 42s):
Okay. Resume Sieve. First product out the gate is the sieve. Our focus is to improve the productivity of the recruitment process. And we do that by using a proprietary algorithm and a little bit of artificial intelligence to break down the resume, put it into shape that it can be evaluated on a consistent basis by whoever's doing it. Meaning it's not just the recruiter these days who's looking at the resume. Sometimes small business owners. Sometimes it's the hiring manager. Sometimes it's HR. Our focus is on companies that are lagging behind in technology because they can't afford it, because they can't understand it. We made an easy to use platform that comes in and helps people go through the process of evaluating the folks that they're bringing in, evaluating the folks that they've got in their organization.
Michael (3m 31s):
And of course in today's job market, looking at people, they looked at in the past to see if they missed anything and want to go back to it. Substantial improvement of productivity as much as 70% reduction in time spent on reducing resumes. As much as 40% time spent reducing the time to fill for requisitions. We've been live for about three months. We've got companies in beta test, we've got some individual sign-ups continuing to run a free trial for people who want to just come in and see how it works. And we can be found at resumeseive.com. That's https://resumesieve.com/.
Joel (4m 14s):
Keith, my man threw in the HTTP.
Chad (4m 17s):
Oh my God, you just totally dated yourself man.
Joel (4m 20s):
Are you from the future. What the hell is that?
Michael (4m 24s):
You know, it gets people. They try to stick the www on the front of it. And my webmaster says, no, no, no. That gets them to the wrong place. I follow directions. Webmaster says, I say, okay.
Chad (4m 35s):
You need a new webmaster.
Joel (4m 36s):
Yeah, you need a new webmaster, first of all.
Chad (4m 39s):
All they need to do is redirect that shit.
Michael (4m 41s):
You know when you're a startup, you do what you can.
Joel (4m 45s):
All right. All right, Michael, the name dude. The Sieve? The Sieve? I literally had to look up. I didn't know what it meant. It was a, it's a cooking thing, right? It sifts the a flour. So it makes sense, metaphorically, I guess, for what you do, but you had to have some better names in the kitty, didn't you? Like, how did you land on the Sieve? Is that a pain in the ass for salespeople to call and try to explain, or spell that? Get me through the name first.
Michael (5m 14s):
Chad (5m 14s):
And also sounds like something Joel got a shot for in college shots.
Joel (5m 18s):
Multiple shots. Yes.
Michael (5m 21s):
Naming is such an awesome experience. We've never been through an official naming process. This was dreamed up, the original application was built for an internal use. And three of my founders brought it out of the company that they were working in and, you know, they had named it and they had patented it, they had gotten the URL. We couldn't get the Sieve as a URL. So, you know, we're taking resumes, we're putting them through a filter. So, you know, it's a metaphor, it's a, it's a metaphor. It's where we're at. You know, that's it.
Joel (5m 53s):
What else is on the table? Like Booger and Bad Tire?
Michael (6m 1s):
Well, if you've ever tried to get a URL these days, it's really tough to get anything, even close to what it is that you want to do. And particularly our main focus is around the evaluation, ranking, resumes, really tough to find anything meaningful in that area. And so, you know, we came up with this metaphor of the Sieve and we ran with it.
Chad (6m 24s):
Michael, I'm going to give you a pass because you don't have really branding and marketing in your background. I look at your profile and I see years of experience in RPO and implementation, which to me means you're focused on helping companies solve a business problem. And you know, the difference between real solutions and vaporware. So I'm going to hold you to a much higher standard, my friend than most startups CEOs, because you have industry experience, business experience, and tech/integration experience, which most startups don't enjoy. So what real business problem are you trying to solve here?
Michael (7m 5s):
Sure. The real business problem we're trying to solve is to speed up the time it takes to evaluate resumes when you're in a resume evaluation environment, let's not confuse it with the other parts of tech that do some other things. Cause reality is only about 50% of the people are using an applicant tracking system or some other technology to evaluate the resumes. They're doing it the old fashioned way. They're printing them out and they're looking at the paper. And so that's the business problem that we're solving the primary business problem. There's some other use cases that I can go into, but the primary business problem is helping people who are still evaluating resumes by printing out the paper, or maybe looking at it on the screen, trying to figure out, does this person have Java?
Michael (7m 47s):
When's the last time they were a product project manager, whatever the case may be. What's their average tenure. What job are they in today? All the things that are spread all over a resume, because there's no standard format for a resume. We take all that heartache out of it and allow them to focus just on what's the criteria that you want in the person that you're going to hire. That's what we're at.
Chad (8m 8s):
What area of the market are you actually focusing on? Because most of the fortune 500 companies I've dealt with over the years, they're not printing shit out. So what's your total addressable market look like? Is it SMB? Is it enterprise? Is it everything? What are you guys focused on?
Michael (8m 25s):
The main focus is in the SMB space and it's in the SMB space in the 100 to 250 employees. Logic being, you get much below a hundred and what's, you know, what's your job flow? It's pretty small. You get much above 250 and then you're going to find people starting to use, you know, whether it's Zoho or Jazz HR or Breezy HR, or one of, one of the other smaller applicant tracking systems. But those people in that 100 to 250 employee range, generally there you send me an email. They're pulling resumes off Indeed manually, or they're posting jobs on Facebook. That's how they're finding their people. And then they're going through those things manually trying to figure out who's the best person, no standard practice, no attempted compliance.
Michael (9m 9s):
And then no repeatability.
Joel (9m 11s):
How about sort of globally? Is this specifically a north American product? Are you guys looking to grow globally? Can accompany in, you know, Germany used the product today?
Michael (9m 23s):
Today were English only. the architecture is set to add other languages as we find the demand. We're actually working on a partnership with a company that's headquartered in India right now, where English is obviously the predominant language, so that will be a natural fit. So as long as you're processing resumes in English, we can handle that.
Joel (9m 40s):
Gotcha. So I want to talk about fundraising for a second. And you guys have taken a pretty unconventional, although I feel like it will probably be more conventional, say a decade from now, you guys, you look like you got, it looks like you got a 500K or so seed funding round or somebody's friends and family. And right now you're, you're on WeFunder, which is a crowdsourcing or crowdfunding platform. Right now, you're at about $21,000 of year, $125K goal. Talk about goals and funding. Why go the crowdfunding route? What are you going to do with the 125? Assuming that you get there.
Joel (10m 21s):
Talk about the funding piece of this business.
Michael (10m 25s):
I'll answer the crowdfunding question first, where we are in our life cycle. We've, we've talked to dozens and dozens of different funding sources. And, and I have bumped up against funding, mergers and acquisitions in various points in my career. We'd be eaten alive if we went after equity funding at this point. And so crowdfunding allows us to continue to raise money through sort of non traditional funding sources, right? These are non traditional investors. They're every man, right? These are people who are interested in being part of the game, but they don't qualify as certified investors. The initial goal we set for 125 was to see how we could do in crowdfunding.
Michael (11m 7s):
Our, our target is about a million between crowdfunding and some additional friends and family that we're working on. The use of funds falls into two primary buckets. One is marketing, that's the largest portion, about 40%. And then about 35% goes to product development. And then the other 25% just keeping the business running. Right. You know, we gotta pay Microsoft for our working environment. We've got to pay Google for our email. You know, we gotta pay our inside sales for making phone calls, that kind of stuff.
Joel (11m 39s):
Yep. So let's talk about your biggest piece that you mentioned there marketing and Chad and I know from experience that marketing to that small, that SMB level that you're talking about getting is very, very tough to get in front of. I'll let you know that we typically hate that demographic or that target market. So tell me how you're going to market to these folks and get them to a use your product?
Michael (12m 2s):
So we're using a multi-channel approach, which is to say, we're trying to, we're using different methods to get to them. So we've had some success reaching people via advertising, both Facebook and LinkedIn. We're doing things like this podcasting as a way to get our name out, we've done some conferences. We were an HR Tech. We did a tech conference in Singapore, which yielded us one client. So in all those different kinds of channels. And then, then we're doing fundamental research, looking for the business owners, through LinkedIn, finding their connections, reaching out to them that, you know, at this point, cost of sales is crazy. That don't get me started, in the long run in the long run we got to bring cost of sales down.
Michael (12m 46s):
But at this point, it's whatever it takes to acquire enough, to have, you know, sort of advanced grow from.
Chad (12m 52s):
Okay. So from the site, it says, allows recruiters to process candidates faster, manage more requisitions and identify higher quality hires. Explain how, what actually is the process?
Michael (13m 5s):
Chad (13m 5s):
That in itself, and what's going to save them time. And why aren't you talking about recruiters? Because for the most part SMBs, you're not going to be talking to recruiters, right?
Michael (13m 15s):
It's a struggle putting the right word against it because it really should be anyone who's doing recruiting, which is anyone who does recruit as five words is too many words. Right? Okay. I'll give you a real quick story that that'll show you. We posted a customer success lead on LinkedIn and Indeed using the free posting. In five days, I got 296 resumes. It took me two hours, but I downloaded all those to my desktop. I loaded them into the Sieve. I had the job already created in the Sieve and I ran them through the Sieve, that latter part of the process uploading, running them through the sieve 15 minutes. So I evaluated 296 resumes in 15 minutes, came up with the four people that we then went to interview.
Michael (13m 57s):
That's how people save money. We're evaluating them against a standard set of criteria. Oh, you, oh, you changed your mind. You don't want that skill. You want to try a different skill. Well, let's change it and run them through the Sieve. It's instantaneous. If you think about the way applicant tracking systems by and large, not exclusively by and large applicant tracking systems, evaluate the candidates based on pre-screening questions. Well, once you've asked a candidate, the pre-screening questions, you can't go back and ask them again, because they've already answered them. But in our case, if we say, well, you know what, nobody has this skill. Let's see if there's a different skill that everybody has? Rerun them, you get through it faster. So you're able to go through that evaluation process much more quickly.
Michael (14m 37s):
And then you have time to focus on, is it the right candidate? Did they have the right experience? You know, it's one thing to say that they got the skill, but then they use it in the right place? I'm trying to hire a salesperson right now. I got a resume that in theory meets all my criteria, except that, no offense, but the guy has been selling solar roofing material for 12 years. That's not SAAS product. That's not software.
Chad (15m 1s):
Michael (15m 1s):
But he's got a 12 years sales experience. So he makes it through the basic process that Indeed provides and so I still have to evaluate.
Chad (15m 9s):
Yeah. So the question is, do you see yourself as a full out platform or are you just a very large feature that needs to be inside of an applicant tracking system?
Michael (15m 22s):
Good question. And I'll break it down a bit. We see ourselves as a platform, but not to become an ATS. For example, I talked about the company in India that we're talking about partnering with, they do interview scheduling. And so you use the Sieve to figure out who you want to interview, and then you feed them into the scheduling module. And then you do the interview scheduling, right? So we're looking to add tools to allow people to be more effective as being recruiters. We're not trying to replace an applicant tracking system. We're not really competing with an applicant tracking system in the sense that there's no workflow beyond loading your resumes and evaluating them. So we don't have any of that kind of process in there.
Michael (16m 1s):
Now, that being said, we are also working on integration with ATSs as another channel that we're working on specifically integrating with one of the, the mid-market ATS is now. And because we've got a specific customer who says, look, I love what your tool does, but I don't want to have to download all my resumes from my ATS and then put them into the Sieve. If you're integrated into my ATS, I'll use you.
Chad (16m 27s):
Michael (16m 29s):
We are working actively in the process of integrating to that particular ATS. Now, if you know the ATS market, you know, pick a number 200, 150, you know, you can't, you can't integrate to all of them. So we're, we're going where the market goes. We're, you know, looking at the ones that really cater to these small businesses and also ones that don't already have some sort of, and I'm doing air quotes. You can't see my fingers, "some sort of evaluation process". Some of them do, although mostly it's based on what's in the application, not necessarily their full skillset, which would be contained in their resume. So.
Chad (17m 3s):
Well, integrations, mimic sales, right? But overall, the biggest question for you is because you only have a defined set of resources. What is your major focus right now when it comes to sales? How are you doing it as a direct client? Is it channel? Is it through, I mean, what are you focusing on? Cause you can't do it all right now.
Michael (17m 26s):
We are attempting the impossible, which we're focusing on two specific channels. We're focusing on direct sales, through LinkedIn research. We're using one of the AI tools to find people's names and addresses and reaching out to them, right. We're doing the hard work that way. And then at the same time, we're working on the channel process of partnering with, and I've talked about this company in India that we're talking about partnering with. So to develop another channel through the partnerships as well. So we, we are attempting, what is, I know it's difficult and it's where we're at. We're doing both at the same time. So we've got inside salespeople focus primarily on the outreach. And then the partnership stuff is being handled primarily by the board.
Michael (18m 9s):
A couple of the board members along with me are very active in identifying and developing partnership opportunities.
Joel (18m 15s):
In your pitch deck you talk about sort of integrations with job sites. What would that look like? Both, I guess, logistically and from a user perspective and how they would use the product. Would it be white labeled? Talk about that.
Michael (18m 30s):
Yeah. The objective, but we haven't achieved it yet, the objective would be to integrate with, for example, something like an Indeed or LinkedIn or something where the user is collecting resumes. And then instead of having to download the resumes and upload them to the Sieve, they can transfer them directly over. That's the channel we're approaching. It's not easy.
Joel (18m 52s):
Michael (18m 53s):
You know, most of the time they, you know, what people don't realize is that the way the job boards actually integrate with the applicant tracking systems is that when you find a job on a job board and you go to apply that you're going to the applicant tracking system anyway. So there's really no, it's kind of funny, there's really no integration there per se, unless you're looking at something like a, you know, ZipRecruiter, which is going out and finding people, but those aren't applicants, those are candidates. Those are passive. So our objective is to find a way to be able to, to enable people, to pull that data directly out of those underlying systems. That's our long-term goal.
Joel (19m 28s):
Do you view the sourcing tools like a Seek Out or a Hiring Solved or Hire Tool as a competitor or do you believe that you could be sort of a partner with them as well?
Michael (19m 38s):
Yeah. Depending on what it is that they're doing, we could be a competitor. If what they're doing is they're bringing back the best candidate, right. They're using the job description and they're coming back using particularly the ones that are using AI. They're coming back with, with people who are pre-screened. The difference of course, is that most of those are still operating by their going out and finding candidates. They're not finding applicants. The difference with the Sieve is it, presumably these are people who've applied to your job and so you already know that you can talk to them. You already know that they're interested in your job. You send out one of those, one of the AI tools to find people, you still have to convince them to apply.
Michael (20m 18s):
We all, definitely overlap. I think that's safe to say.
Joel (20m 22s):
So are there, are there people you consider direct competitors if they're sort of on the fringes, are there any ones that you specifically think of as compared to competition?
Michael (20m 30s):
The full service applicant tracking systems are definitely competition for us because if somebody has gone to the trouble to bring in an applicant tracking system, they're less likely to bring in something like the Sieve unless, as you've already pointed out, and as we already know, unless we're integrated and enhance our, our desire, move down, that integration channel. Beyond that the primary competitor for us is the same thing that everybody has the HR tech space. They're just a boatload of applications out there, different capabilities that, you know, we ran across one the other day that on the surface looks very much like ours, except that in our case, you get to either upload or create your job description, but, you know, whatever works for you.
Michael (21m 10s):
In their case, you feed them the resumes and you, you pick the job description from their library, and then it evaluates that candidate based on a standard job description. So it's not exactly the same, but you can see that it, you know, we're competing for mind share to accomplish the same work, even though we're not doing it the same way.
Chad (21m 29s):
You guys use a scoring system, correct?
Michael (21m 31s):
Yes, we do.
Chad (21m 32s):
Okay. So most scoring systems are black box they're they're, they're not transparent at all. Can the client see specifically how you are ranking these candidates?
Michael (21m 42s):
Well, okay, so at different levels. The score that the candidate gets is visible. In our health documentation we talk about how the score is created. I mean, I'll describe it for you. It's a thousand point scale 800 points are applied to requirements. 200 are applied to preferred criteria, and then the user has the ability to weigh all those in however they see fit.
Chad (22m 8s):
Okay. Do you show it? And if you do, can they go in and tweak it? Because it's on them, right? You're the tool here, but do you show it, do you make it available and transparent for them to actually go and tweak.
Michael (22m 19s):
The way you're describing where we're, we're pretty open with how it, how it works, but it's, it still is an algorithm in the background that the only manipulation that they can do is they can weight the individual criteria and they can change the weighting on the fly. Obviously they get to decide what's required and what's preferred. And then we have a further factor, which is recency. They can turn recency on and off to decide whether or not that's skewing the results of a particular candidate.
Chad (22m 47s):
Gotcha. Okay. So very important, is now, especially with the, the EOC and the OFCCP, depending on the, whether they're a federal contractor or not, it's incredibly important for them to understand how you got to score X, right? Whether they did it, you did it. Either way the algorithm needs to be transparent from the standpoint of defendability and explainability. So obviously that's not something that you have built into the tech today. For smaller organizations. It's not going to be as much of an issue, but this is going to be a standard moving forward, I promise you.
Michael (23m 26s):
Yeah, no. And, you know, we've actually talked about patenting our algorithm, and I've learned some interesting terms from the legal Eagles and their basic advice was, we don't think you can patent this, but if you just call it a trade secret, and I said, well, what's a trade secret. He said, well, it's something you don't tell anybody. Oh, thanks for your help. $375 an hour for that bit of advice.
Chad (23m 51s):
Yeah. Go get used to that, if you keep paying for consultants. From the site, it says up to 30% reduction in hiring costs. Now you guys are just in kind of like a beta past beta mode right now. So how did you get to that number? Is that a client aggregate number or a single client case, or just kind of like a concept?
Michael (24m 12s):
Well, it's a combination of two things. One, it's an aggregate number from the people who have tested for us, but two, the application was in use for several years on a standalone basis within an IT staffing company. They analyze their stats over time and we're able to do determine what those actual savings were versus their original baseline before they started using the application.
Joel (24m 38s):
The team that you have looks like according to LinkedIn, you have about eight employees. What does the team look like? What's the skill set?
Michael (24m 45s):
We've got a board and they've got both IT as well as staffing and startup experience. Some of the board members like me were, we do what we do, day-to-day work. The day-to-day folks, our IT operations lead, the customer success lead, and then the bulk of our folks, we've got another nine people on the development side. So in total, we've got 18. The nine folks on the development side are all worked for our technology partner and they all sit in India.
Chad (25m 17s):
Well on the site, some coming soon points that I wanted to throw out to you. First and foremost, scan social media profiles. You gotta, you gotta be fucking kidding me? Right.
Michael (25m 28s):
I know. I, you know, you know, the funny thing is, you know, you talked about my experience, right? I've been in the talent acquisition space a long time. And so I cringe, I cringe at those things where, you know, some of the, some of our team, you know, they've been in different, different parts and they don't see the problem with that. So there are some things that have to be vetted before they can be put into place and that certainly is one of them. And, you know, it's one thing to determine if someone has a social media presence, it's another to evaluate that social media presence and certainly you have to have permission and all those kinds of things to do that before you get there.
Chad (26m 4s):
Michael you're the CEO, you can put the kibosh on stupid shit like that. Okay. So the next one, you review position benchmarks and education ranks. Now this actually got Amazon into a whole bunch of fucking trouble because they were using historical data, that set benchmarks that actually started kicking females out the back door. So reviewing positional benchmarks as, I mean, those benchmarks that's historical data, and we know humans are biased. So why are we doing that?
Michael (26m 35s):
Well, because you know, part of it is because those are the kinds of things that people ask for and you gotta be, and I know you got to be a little careful giving people the things that they ask for.
Chad (26m 44s):
Michael (26m 44s):
The benchmarks that we have in mind are things like, you know, can we help the recruiter with salary negotiations by providing salary benchmarks, as opposed to skill benchmarks and those kinds of things. And you're hitting on the tough ones, the ones that are the most problematic and the ones that people struggle with the most. There's no question about it.